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The Eliminators in the November OC Magazine

The Eliminators are in this months OC Magazine. Get a copy at your local news stand.

Read more to see the article.

The Incredible O.C. Time Warp

Fondue? Earth Shoes? Slot cars? Boomer fads don’t come to Orange County to die. They come to live on and on


You no doubt remember exactly where you were during our most historic or traumatic cultural cataclysms. But what were you doing—and who were you?—the last time you fumbled with an unwieldy fondue fork? When the last tricked-out VW Beetle disappeared from your cul-de-sac? When you wore a pair of leg warmers, or Doc Martens, or Earth Shoes without irony?

It’s impossible to say exactly why certain pastimes and fashions ripple across popular culture, or why they fade away. World-shaking events may fill our history books (and channels), but the fads with which we’re momentarily infatuated also tell the story of who we are. While most people assume that fads die, that’s not entirely true. They morph, evolve, and sometimes even resurface.

And, to a startling degree, they do so in Orange County.

The place is teeming with former fads and the people who keep them alive. It’s a fertile field for hunting down, say, a Pete Seeger fan, a racquetball ace, or a collector of Atari game cartridges. Go ahead, Google them. They’re out there. Still.

But, there were some disappointments during our search. Rumors proved groundless that Orange County has a viable local community that speaks Esperanto, the international language that reached the height of its popularity shortly after World War I. We had trouble finding local dealers for the once-hot artwork of LeRoy Neiman and Margaret “Big-Eyed Children” Keane. Reports of a new form of roller disco called “jam skating” proved mostly hype. There was no reply from The Orange County Dungeons & Dragons Meetup Group. The O.C. citizens-band community maintained radio silence.

Still, our pursuit of former fads and faddists in Orange County yielded priceless dividends. In short, those still-breathing fads provided a window into the past. Anyone who likes what they see can climb through, and, at least for a while, close it firmly behind them.

Surf music
Before the Beach Boys there was surf music: Born in Southern California, it was strictly instrumental, highly melodic, reverb-heavy rock played on Fender guitars and amplifiers, and performed by the still-revered likes of Dick Dale, Eddie and the Showmen, and the Surfaris. In 1961, overflow crowds of a thousand or more regularly crammed the Rendezvous Ballroom on Balboa Peninsula to dance the surfer stomp. Then came the British Invasion and the vocal genius of Brian Wilson & Co., and suddenly it was over. That’s how Joe Kurkowski remembers it.

As a kid guitarist and surfer growing up in Orange County, Kurkowski loved surf music passionately, but when its time was up, he promptly turned away from it. “I mean, c’mon, The Beatles?” says Kurkowski, now 56. “Nobody had ever heard anything like them.”

But fast forward to 1993, when Kurkowski and several of his still-surfing musician buddies started jamming to the surf rock of the Kennedy administration, and shortly thereafter, five of the participants—all San Clemente residents whose day jobs range from construction work to building microchips—formed The Eliminators, named after a popular model of longboard.

The Eliminators haven’t exactly led a nationwide surf music renaissance, but they’ve kept the sound alive with occasional gigs in and around Orange County, made a few well-received CDs, and performed background music for several TV series and commercials. Most importantly, they’re writing new music. While they do a mean “Hawaii Five-O” theme, about 80 percent of their set list is original. They keep in touch with the old guard, too. “Eddie Bertrand [of Eddie and the Showmen] and those other guys really like us,” says Kurkowski. “I guess they feel we’re putting them back on the map.” Sample their music at

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